Saturday, September 29, 2007

The last dry-lend plant - Motar, Rock Samphire or Sea fennel


For a long time Motar was almost forgotten herb in Croatian cuisine. There were only few restaurants and chefs using it and they were mostly situated in islands like Lastovo and Korcula. Luckily, in last few years Motar is rediscovered and it is about to become the star of Croatian coastal cuisine!

All thought I'm happy that I don't have to travel for 5 hours to Augusta Insula restaurant on Island of Lastovo just to enjoy their famous Motar salad, I am little concerned how sudden popularity of Motar could affect the life of this wild green.

Motar (Crithmum maritimum L.), Rock Samphire or Sea fennel grows on rocky Mediterranean shores, it is the last dry-lend plant exposed to strong wind, salt, sea waves, draying sun... it survives extreme weather conditions but uncontrolled exploitation, initiated by growing gastronomic demand could be fatal.

Another danger for Motar menaces from tourism industry that builds hotels on the cost and destroys natural habitat of this plant.

I hope our little heroic plant that defies the wind, sea and sun for centuries will resist all threats of the modern age and that we all will enjoy it, hand-picking it moderately and wisely!

Motar has been used in different ways for centuries, from time of Greeks and Romans, as a food - raw, steamed, boiled or pickled, but it was also used as an medicament due to it's therapeutics and aromatic contents. Even today it is widely used in modern cosmetics perfumery and medicine.

I like to eat it pickled and this summer we (well, my sister did, to be more precise) pickled it ourself for the first time!

Well, Johanna from The Passionate Cook gave me perfect reason to post about it when she decided to host this months WTSIM... with a theme: SAVOURY PRESERVES.

Pickled Sea Fennel (Rock Samphire, Motar...)
Hand pick sea Fennel before it flowers. Pick of the small leaves.
Wash them in sea water (fresh pipe water will do).
Cook it in mixture of water and vinegar (70:30) for 15 min until tender.
Leave it to cool and store it in jars filled with diluted vinegar (half water, half vinegar).

You can use it for seasoning salads, or as a cold relish to round meat or fish dish! Play with it and you will discover wonderful ways to enjoy this extraordinary plant!

9 comments:

linda said...

My father brought some back from Croatia last week. He cooked them and put them in oil. He calls it matar if I remeber correctly...

FreshAdriaticFish said...

In Croatia it is know under few different names: motar, matar, šćulac ili petrovac...
It is also prepared in so many different ways that one could open a whole blog just to post about it! Maybe I will?! Or as a theme for the next WTSIM...

thepassionatecook said...

wow this is most unusual! i have never heard of sea fennel, does it taste something like samphire? for the same reason, i doubt that we could do a WTSIM on it as most poeple wouldn't be able to buy it... unless you invite us all to croatia and we blog from there ;-)

FreshAdriaticFish said...

well, sea fennel or rock samphire and samphire (Salicornia) are from the "same family". I've never tried samphire (Salicornia) so I can't tell if they taste similarly.
Suggestion for WTSIM was a kind of a joke but maybe it would be interesting to try to set a theme like "wild herbs" or similar?!

Tea said...

mmm, Motar! Bravo! :)

zlamushka said...

Hi there, i came here through the round up of Waiter, there is ... I ve never heard of anything like you posted. I would love to try. I myself am hosting an event that is dedicated to giving food as a present. I would love you to have a look and maybe you could come up with something? http://www.burntmouth.com/2007/10/spoonful-of-christmas.html

maninas: food matters said...

hm pojma nemam sto je motar! potrazit cu koju slicicu biljke. zanimljiv post!

Tea said...

Ma bez veze, danas sam ti ostavila komentar i uopce nije ostao!!
Evo ponovit cu da oblaci nisu jestivi jer su napravljeni od stiropora i onda prekriveni jednom smjesom (rolled fondant) koja je po teksturi slicna marcipanu. Onda se premaze smjesom od bjelanjaka i vode i pospe kristal secerom! ;)

Tea said...

Aha! Ma naravno da ti znas ;)
I to Apfel Strudel, kao sto ces vidjet na slici :)) Uh, znas kako je dobar, ja uvijek pojedem kraj dok je jos uvijek topao! mmm